DIIV: Frog in Boiling Water (Fantasy) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  


Frog in Boiling Water


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DIIV’s sound has evolved the way organisms on earth did—like an aquatic creature growing legs and skin and ascending out of the water and onto hard earth. Their early sound was clear, aquatic and flowing, matching their watery band name and the album’s title, Oshin. Sophomore release Is The Is Are showed them growing some new muscles in guitar tone and sprawling, yet hypnotic, composition. Deceiver was the exciting first steps on land, taking in new sights and trying new things, like a full-on embrace of ’90s-style fuzzy shoegaze. DIIV’s new album, Frog in Boiling Water, then, represents the evolution being complete. They are a new creature, with a fully formed identity and freshly confident approach to boot, and the foundations of their sound are solid and earthy in a way Oshin could only reach for like waves.

Of course, every band’s story involves much more than a shifting sound, and in the case of DIIV, that story is strained and eventful, and has been comprehensively documented elsewhere. Suffice it to say here that frontman Zachary Smith’s struggles with his personal demons are somewhere in the rear view mirror; the fight to create this music is now related to one every American understands too well at this point in time: it’s the fight to stay together and work as a democracy. Frog in Boiling Water is the result of four musicians willing to push through disagreements and fractious relationships in order to maintain a collective identity and make art that is true to the good and bad of humanity; the pain and joy of its creation is evident in its very sound.

Frog in Boiling Water foregoes the exploratory, and sometimes disjointed, feel of Deceiver and instead burrows deep into a distortion-laden shoegaze groove that will register familiarly to any fan of the genre. It’s thrilling to recognize Smith’s wispy voice and dream-pop leanings set against truly massive waves of guitar crunch, exemplified in opener “In Amber” and brought to swooning My Bloody Valentine-esque levels on “Reflected.” Meanwhile, “Raining on Your Pillow” brings back a dark, hypnotic atmosphere reminiscent of Is The Is Are, and “Somber the Drums,” the closest thing to an upbeat anthem on this album, features sublime guitar and bass interplay throughout; it’s one of the best rockers the shoegaze movement of the ’20s has to offer.

The struggles of DIIV have been on the surface of their story for too long. With Frog in Boiling Water, their best album yet, the band is proving that their music is urgent enough and true enough to transcend whatever suffering it takes to make it work. (www.diiv.net)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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